1988 SP Air Race – Improving your chances – 3

1988 State President’s Trophy Air Race


A series of three articles written by Vic Kaiser prior to the 1988 Air Race

Part 3

As promised, here is the final of three articles to help you in this years’ race.

In my first article I spoke about NAVIGATION and that the shortest distance between the turning points is the straight line that joins them. A lot of competitors remain within 500 m on either side of their desired track by zig-zagging from one feature to another to make good their plotted track. Although this is acceptable, it is not the shortest distance to get you to the turning point. Rather fly a CONSTANT HEADING towards a major feature further along your track and make small heading changes to adjust for drift than criss-crossing over your track several times. Remember every time you make a turn through more than 10 degrees you are slowing down your forward progress over the ground.

Now what happens when you MISS A TURNING POINT? The only way to avoid people from purposely turning short of a turning point and thereby flying a shorter distance and hence gaining incalculable time advantage, is to disqualify them from the race. Now should you inadvertently miss a turning point but wish to remain in the race, you must navigate back to the turning point and the extra time you take to do this, is the penalty you will loose for having missed the turning point in the first instance. So the sooner you turn back to the turning point, the less the time lost. However, remember there are other competitors on the same route and do not turn blindly in front of them.

Whilst on the subject of turning points I would like to remind you of the HEIGHT at which you should cross the turning point. The marshalls on the ground must visually, unassisted by binoculars, be able to read either your race numbers or aircraft registration. At 200 ft agl this is easily accomplished. If you are higher than this, it is possible misread either of the above and if you are lower than this the time period in which the marshall visually sights your aircraft is too short.

Next I will discuss the turning technique when approaching your turning point. It is always preferable to approach your turning point with excess height rather than at very low level. Firstly, positively identify the actual marshalling point at least 5NM out. Then look at your next leg and see what immediate feature there is on your next track. Locate this feature on the ground. Now lower your aircraft’s nose and allow the speed to increase up to the yellow band on the ASI while still pointing directly at the turning point marshalls. Level off at approximately 200 ft agl and maintain this speed till within approximately 300 m from your turning point before applying approximately 60 degrees of bank and increasing your “g” loading to just off max “g” permissible. Ensure that you do not lose height, start looking for the ground feature you located on your next leg, and roll out on this feature. Give your DI/compass time to settle down and before realigning and proceeding on your next leg. Obviously these figures will vary with varying aircraft speed and must be adjusted accordingly.

Finally a few DONT’S for the race:

    • 1. Don’t do a 360 degree turn in the vicinity of a turning point.
    • 2. Don’t pull up when passing over a turning point.
    • 3. Don’t overtake another aircraft on the inside of a turn.
    • 4. Don’t approach the turning point more than 90 degrees out from the inbound track.
    • 5. Don’t forget to transmit your position two minutes prior to reaching the turning point.

We look forward to seeing you all in Margate. Good luck!